Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson and Allison Wagner
CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson with the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority and Allison Wagner with Houston County Economic Development Authority have been working with many partners on a farming initiative in the region called Driftless Grown. Houston County was recently awarded an $18,000 SMIF grant for the Driftless Grown initiative. Swanson authored the successful grant for the County.
This new initiative helps farmers build skills as entrepreneurs and connect with resources to help strengthen their business. The project aims to support existing and budding farmers by connecting them with education, networks, resources, and new markets, as well as attract new entrepreneurs to the region through strategic branding and promotion.
“We have an opportunity to support conventional farmers looking for alternative ways to make a living on their farm, while also supporting new farmers with the education, connection, mentor-ship, and resources needed to grow as entrepreneurs. This work will not only help address immediate issues for these businesses, but it will also lay the foundation for the identity of our region, making Houston County a destination for local foods and a welcoming place to start an agricultural business.” Wagner said.
The initiative has the support of many partners and businesses who have generously given matching donations. Some of these include: U of M Extension, Workforce Development Inc., Land Stewardship Project, Merchant’s Bank, MiEnergy, and People’s Food Co-op.